Paul L. Caron

Friday, June 10, 2022

More On Ilya Shapiro And Georgetown Law School

Following up on my previous posts (links below):  Eugene Volokh (UCLA), What Are Georgetown Professors Forbidden to Say?:

[ Georgetown (2016)W]hatever you might think about what happened to Shapiro, this incident also produced a report from the IDEAA office that deals with all of Georgetown, not just the law school. (I've received a copy, on condition that I can quote it but can't post it.) And this tells us about much more than just the Shapiro incident: It gives us a good sense about what all Georgetown professors are, at least ostensibly, forbidden from saying. I'd like to use this post to explore that. ...

It doesn't matter whether you care about Ilya Shapiro's career. The important thing here, I think, is just how much speech is now in peril, going forward, for Georgetown professors generally (especially ones who lack tenure, but even the tenured ones).

Jonathan Turley (George Washington), Shapiro Resigns From Georgetown After the Law School Reinstates Him on a “Technicality”:

Shapiro has elected to leave Georgetown to take a position with the Manhattan Institute given the lack of support for his right to speak freely at the law school. Unfortunately, most schools want to avoid litigation (and the controversy) over terminating dissenting faculty. The preference is to make life on faculties so hostile or intolerable that faculty will simply resign. ...

The support enjoyed by faculty on the far left is in sharp contrast to the treatment given faculty with moderate, conservative or libertarian views. Anyone who raises such dissenting views is immediately set upon by a mob demanding their investigation or termination. This includes blocking academics from speaking on campuses like a recent Classics professor due to their political views. Conservatives and libertarians understand that they have no cushion or protection in any controversy, even if it involves a single, later deleted tweet. ...

Like many schools, Georgetown cannot continue the pretense of protecting free speech and academic freedom when it is actively creating a hostile workplace for those with conservative, libertarian or dissenting views. The double standard is evident in schools across the country. Liberal faculty can expect full-throated and unqualified support for their free speech while conservatives understand that they have no margin for controversy or error.

Chronicle of Higher Education, Georgetown Reinstated Him After a Controversial Tweet. He Quit Anyway.:

I spoke with Shapiro about his decision to quit, the controversial tweet, and what he plans to do now. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

You wrote a column after Georgetown completed its investigation in which you said that you were “relieved that now I’ll get to do the job for which I was hired.” You called it a “new day.” Four days after that, you announced your resignation. What changed?

What changed was that it took a little time to go through the report that I got from the university administrators and to see and understand that I was being put in an untenable situation and that the next time I said or did something that offended someone, or someone claimed offense or felt discomfort, then that would constitute a hostile educational environment and I’d be disciplined. I’m not prepared to live and work under that kind of sword of Damocles, and I’m certainly not prepared to walk on eggshells to try to avoid any sort of inadvertent offense.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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